China Denies Organ Milling

Organ Transplant
Beijing denied on Thursday it harvested organs from executed prisoners, including from some not quite dead, after a Chinese doctor testified to the U.S. congress that he had performed such operations.

Adding weight to widespread reports of involuntary organ donations in China, burn doctor Wang Guoqi told a U.S. House International Relations Committee panel Wednesday that he removed skin from nearly 100 executed prisoners for transplant.

Wang, who is seeking asylum in the United States, told the human rights panel that doctors took the kidneys from a prisoner who was still breathing after being shot in a 1995 execution in northern China.

"Any clear-sighted person can see that this is a vicious slander against China," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue. "I believe for personal purposes, they have gone so far as to create those sensational lies."

"With regard to the trade in human organs, China strictly prohibits that. The major source of human organs comes from voluntary donations from Chinese citizens," she said.

Chinese officials say organs are transplanted from executed prisoners only if they and their family consent.

But human rights campaigners have claimed that prisoners' executions are sometimes scheduled for transplant recipients who pay for involuntarily harvested organs.

Activist Harry Wu, imprisoned by China for 19 years, said rich foreign transplant recipients may pay more than $15,000 apiece.

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Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the congressional panel that held the hearing, said she wants to ensure that the United States does not become an accomplice "in promoting this deplorable practice."

She has sponsored a bill to bar Chinese physicians from coming to the United States for training in organ or tissue transplants.

Wang described coordinated procedures that he said government officials and Chinese doctors developed to extract organs from inmates immediately after their executions so they could be transplanted.

Wang said he became tormented by the practice after he followed orders to remove the skin of a still-living prisoner in October 1995.

Michael Parmly, principal deputy assistant secretary of state, said the U.S. government voiced its concern over the accusations of organ harvesting in a diplomatic discussion on Tuesday with Chinese officials.

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